ANIMALS from a specialist exotics shop including deadly scorpions that can kill with one sting will be some of the star attractions at an upcoming pet extravaganza event.
A 12-foot albino Burmese python, giant spiders and a skunk will also be there to meet visitors in the exotics tent at Pets on the Hill organised by the independently-owned Willows Veterinary Group at Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre, Organsdale Farm, near Tarporley, on Sunday September 25 from 10 am.
Thanks to Lee Owen, proprietor of Warrington Pets and Exotics, there will be a whole host of amazing snakes and lizards, blue-tongued skinks and red footed tortoises, African hedgehogs, bearded dragons, huge spiders and giant millipedes on show.
“There will also be a three-foot Caiman crocodile,” said dad of ten Lee, who along with his second eldest daughter, Jemma – customer care supervisor at the shop – will be sharing incredible facts and figures about all the creatures they look after.
Audiences can be assured it will all be done in a safe and secure environment as Lee and his family have a lifetime’s experience of looking after exotic animals.
Lee, whose dad worked as a hippopotamus keeper at Chester Zoo, said: “The final line up of animals we will be taking is still being decided on but one thing is for sure there will be lots of exotics to see.
“Whenever we go to an event like this we always draw a large crowd with long queues to enter our tent so if you want to get a good look at our reptiles and invertebrates then it’s best to get there early. We manage the queues carefully, only letting in small numbers at a time and this also gives us more chance to educate families about the various creatures, talk to people and answer all their questions, of which there are usually lots.”
The day-long Pets on the Hill event is a new event born out of the independently-owned Willows Veterinary Group’s hugely successful Pets in the Park, which outgrew its former site at Marbury Park, Northwich.
Other attractions on offer will include ferret racing, animal agility and handling displays, farm animals to pet, a dog show, an animal-clothes fashion show, dog fly ball team display and a host of pet and animal themed sales stalls.
One other creature which Lee will be taking along, but for display purposes only, is the venomous Deathstalker Scorpion, the world’s most poisonous. Despite being only 2-3 inches in length it can kill its prey, including humans, within minutes using a single sting.
Native to the desert territories of North Africa and the Middle East, its toxins cause an allergic reaction which completely incapacitates the victim.
“Like many of our creatures it requires a Dangerous Wild Animal licence to own. We are very strict about where we take it and who we sell it to,” said Lee.
The store also stocks geckos, prairie dogs, skunks, and sugar gliders – a small tree climbing, nocturnal species of marsupial – all sourced from reputable breeders.
Lee said: “We are passionate about the welfare of all our animals and will never sell a creature unless we are certain the buyer has the correct facilities and environment to care for it. These are not domestic pets like cats and dogs, they require highly specialised maintenance, and many have rigorous dietary needs to keep them in good health.”
Lee, 40 next year, has been involved in handling animals since he was five years old.
His dad, Colin, kept animals at home as well as being a professional zoo keeper, while his mum, Christine, worked in Nadine’s Pet Shop, Warrington, for many years, often bringing home sick and abandoned animals which the family adopted and cared for.
Lee’s personal collection of animals includes a breeding program of Royal Pythons.
Now his children with wife, Sharon, are following in his footsteps. Daughter, Jemma and her sister Rebecca both work at the shop, which has more than 18,500 Facebook followers.
Jemma, 19, is also responsible for taking animals to displays at private functions, including weddings and birthday parties, as well as educational visits to local schools.
“For me it’s great because I get to combine two passions,” said Jemma. “When I was younger I was always in a dilemma because I wanted to work with children, I even studied child care at college, but I also loved working with the animals. So now I have the best of both worlds. I get to interact with children at the schools and chat to them about the thing I know best – the amazing array of wonderful creatures I’m surrounded by every single day.”
Jemma is constantly entranced by the behavioural habits of all wildlife but says she has two real favourites, a 12-foot albino Burmese Python and her pet skunk, named Pepe.
She joined her dad at the shop in 2008, helping out after school, then went on to achieve qualifications in Business Studies, Level 2 and 3 Pet Care and Retail. She is now also working towards a Level 3 Animal Management and Managers course.
For more information about Pets on the Hill go to www.petsonthehill.co.uk
For more information about Warrington Pets and Exotics call 01925 574307 or 01925 481712 firstname.lastname@example.org